Varsity Match 2009
Vickerman eyes Varsity revenge
December 9, 2009
Vickerman will be looking to improve on last year © Getty Images
Former Australia international Dan Vickerman will lead Cambridge University out against their rivals from Oxford in the Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Vickerman, who has 54 appearances under his belt for the Wallabies, is the undoubted star name and he will be desperate to avenge the defeat 12 months ago when he was upstaged by Oxford's Tim Catling who stole the show with a hat-trick of tries - a feat last achieved 74 years previous.
Catling is back for a second crack, after spending six months in Tokyo as part of his Oriental Studies course, and is in form with eight tries from the wing this term.
Oxford carry a real threat from the wings as Will Browne has touched down on 12 occasions this season and the fans of both sides will be eager for a repeat of last year's eight-try spectacular.
Cambridge hold sway in the series despite last year's 33-29 loss, with a 60-53 advantage, but they will face an Oxford side which will also feature former Leicester fly-half Ross Broadfoot and ex-Ulster prop Niall Conlon.
The Varsity Match has a proud tradition of showcasing the stars of tomorrow, with names of the calibre of Rob Andrew, Tony Underwood, Stuart Barnes and Gavin Hastings featuring on a roll of honour.
Vickerman feels Oxford are ready to fire at Twickenham, despite having had a less-than-ideal preparation.
"We've had quite an interesting season, lots of injuries, but all the guys have managed to come together in the last few weeks," Vickerman said. "Last year is done and dusted. We're concentrating on our game. A win would just be a fantastic reward for all the hard work the guys have put in."
Dan Rosen will lead out Oxford and the Dark Blues will rely heavily on his experience: he is in his eighth year at the university and it will be his fourth Varsity game.
"To be captain is amazing, the pinnacle of my rugby career. I'm really excited and a little nervous," Rosen said. "The rivalry between Cambridge and us is pretty big. The Varsity Match itself is a great match and a big occasion."
Oxford also number former Sale Sharks flanker John Carter among their side, but they will be without England Under-20 flanker Jamie Gibson who has failed to shrug off a knee injury.
The Dark Blues lay claim to the greater experience, with 10 of their side boasting Varsity involvement compared to Cambridge's nine.
Oxford University: C Mahony (Keble); W Browne (Balliol), A Cheesman (St Edmund Hall), J Allfrey (Green Templeton), T Catling (Pembroke); R Swanson (New), N Haydon (University); R Lutton (Linacre), D Rosen (Worcester, captain), O Tomaszczyk (Brasenose), I Kench (St Cross), N van Zyl (Green Templeton), J Carter (Kellogg), S McKeen (Harris Manchester), C Davies (St Edmund Hall)
Replacements: D Rogers (St Cross), W Johnson (Pembroke), K Outen (St Edmund Hall), M Tosa (Lady Margaret Hall), W Klopper (Green Templeton), R James (St Catherine's), S Morris (Somerville), G Oliver (Green Templeton)
Cambridge University: J Richards (Hughes Hall); J Greenwood (Hughes Hall), F Shepherd (St Edmund's), F Burdon (St John's), D Riley (Hughes Hall); R Broadfoot (Hughes Hall), D Rowe (Hughes Hall); N Conlon (St Edmund's), P Crossley (Homerton), T Harris (Churchill), W Jones (St Edmund's), D Vickerman (Hughes Hall, captain), E White (Jesus), J Wheeler (St Edmund's), B Maidment (St Edmund's)
Replacements: J Gilbert (St Edmund's), A Daniel (St Edmund's), P Anuvatnujotikul (Girton), H Henderson (St Edmund's), J Hood (Hughes Hall), A Reid (St John's), W Balfour (Queens'), A Cheetham (St John's)